This week has been strange. I know it’s only Tuesday and that the week has only started, but it still feels strange. I feel myself becoming someone I don’t want to become, but have been forced to become to do the job I am currently doing.
I used to be soft and kind, but in this past month, I’ve had to develop a skin as thick as iron. This whole managing-an-entire-center thing is hard. My heart wants to do the right thing, but me head knows that to do that, I have to be the bad guy at times.
I wish I could always be the good guy. I wish I could radiate joy and love everywhere I go, but it seems that life is very far away from me. Not because I am unable to be that person, but because I have endured so much in so little time that I have little joy to spread.
I thought this was supposed to be my time to heal and recover from all the wrong I’ve had to deal with in the past few years, but I guess I have to endure a little bit longer. The environment I’m in isn’t exactly the best either.
Let me give you an example. Today I went to a Christian bookstore to pick up a new Bible. I don’t really need a new one, but the only other Spanish Bible I have is old and the notes it has don’t really reflect what I believe anymore so it was time I changed it. So I went to the bookstore, found a Bible, and because I had a little time, I decided to browse the shelves to see if I could find any hidden gems. Well, what I found was closer to a lump of coal than a gem.
Right there, at the end of the gondola, there was an entire section dedicated to Queer Christians. And no, it wasn’t the nice “God loves queer people and affirms who they are.” Quite the opposite, really.
It shouldn’t shock me to find this in a Christian bookstore in Puerto Rico of all places. But it did. As I stared at the books, it hit me that these authors were talking about people like me. People who love differently than they do. People who feel differently than they do. And instead of trying to understand my reality, they choose to hate, to try and invalidate all that I and countless others have experienced and felt for generations.
At that moment I felt so small. So insignificant. So unworthy of a love that I know I don’t deserve. It had been a while since I had felt so unwelcome in a place I once called home; and I’m not talking about the bookstore, I’m talking about the Church.
Thankfully, I got a call to go pick someone up so I payed for my Bible (it was $30) and I left, trying to put the experience behind me. However, life has a funny way of being sucky all at once (why is it never just slightly sucky and not mind-shatteringly sucky?), and I had another moment of feeling unworthy.
So I picked up the people I was supposed to pick up, went back to the church and started working on some paperwork I needed to do for an employee of mine (did I mention I have employees and volunteers now?). I go out to print the paperwork and the husband of one of the volunteers takes it upon himself to let me know that I should’ve stayed with the kids on their hike because I could use the exercise.
And there it was, the eternal thorn in my side. I don’t think I need to tell you how many times (and in how many ways) I’ve been called fat in my life. Just know that there are many of both. I’ve learned how to put it behind me, but this one caught me by surprise. Sure, I’ve head the whispers about the fat guy who replaced the old pastor. I’ve seen the looks I get from people when I walk by them. I’ve heard the people sitting next to me in planes, buses, and cars complaining when my sides inevitably spill outside my seat and into theirs. I know what it means to be fat in a world designed for thin people. But this comment really hit me hard. Because my mind was already jarred from the homophobia at the bookstore, and now I have to deal with someone who doesn’t even know my name telling me that my body is somehow inadequate.
I was angry. I was sad. I felt like there was a monster inside of me trying to come out. But, I swallowed my words, picked up the papers, went into my office, and breathed. I tried calming myself down and steering my mind in some other direction, but difficulties and anger kept showing themselves today.
Eventually I left the office after the kids were gone, I went home, and I sat there trying to forget that today ever happened.
Why do people feel the need to comment on other’s bodies as if they had any authority over them? Why do I let comments from people who don’t know me affect me so much? I don’t know, and I guess I’ll never know, but I do know that keeping it inside isn’t gonna help anyone.
So that’s why I’m writing you today, because I needed to get the anger and the sadness out of me before it became something else. I don’t know, Alice, I don’t think I can make it to April under these conditions.
I know I said October was the time I wanted to end my relationship with my current church, but I considered extending it to April so I could get my affairs in order. But I’m not sure I can hold out that long. I thought that going back home would help me escape the hatred and dirty looks I got in New York, but they’ve just transformed. Now they look at me not because I’m brown and queer, but because I’m fat and queer. Guess I can’t really escape hatred and prejudice, but it stings a little more when it comes from people who are supposed to care for you.
I don’t know, Alice, I just guess I’m done with hiding and forcing myself to be someone I’m not. I don’t want to be the pastor, I don’t want to be Alexander anymore. I want to be the person I chose to be. I want to be Alex. Just Alex. No baggage, not gendered language, no legacy to uphold, no reputation to protect. Just Alex. Whoever Just Alex is.
I have an early day tomorrow, so I’ll just leave it here. Thank you for listening.